John Thompson survived 14 years on death row, serving a sentence for a crime he had nothing to do with. Upon his exoneration, he tried to hold those who tried to have him executed held accountable for what they had done. Represented by Pa IP Board member J. Gordon Cooney and Michael Banks of Morgan Lewis, the jury was so outraged by what happened to John they awarded him $14.5 million. In a shocking, 5-4, decision, the United States Supreme Court reversed the finding.
Despite losing the money that would have helped John rebuild his life, he persevered. John’s voice found its music in speaking out in opposition to prosecutorial misconduct, police brutality, and the death penalty. John traveled the country to stand as living witness to what happens when police and prosecutors don’t act in fairness to defendants. He founded a recovery program, Resurrection After Exoneration, to help other victims of the criminal justice system re-enter society and have the support they need to find new lives.
John died last week, doing the work he felt compelled to do at age 55. He will be dearly missed at every gathering of exonerees and their advocates.